Perihelion Science Fiction

Sam Bellotto Jr.

Eric M. Jones
Contributing Editor


Silicon and Solitude
by Shane D. Rhinewald

Expedition of the Arcturus
by JZ Murdock

Nude Bargain
by Olga Godim

Dirtsiders on Cinnabar
by Patrick Lundrigan

by Tom Tinney

History of Humanity’s First Alien Contact in the Year 2023
by Eric M. Jones

Space Cadets of the Apocalypse
by Dave Fragments

Illegal Alien
by Betsy Streeter

A Tangle of Brilliance
by Charles Barouch


Playing a Role in Science Fiction
by Clayton J. Callahan

Prof. Pickering’s Practical Plan
by The Editors




Shorter Stories

Comic Strips




By Tom Tinney

SURE, THE HOLOGRAM IN THE OFFICE door’s glass said “Detective Agency,” but my clients knew that it was just me and my office gal, Kinky, an ex-Holo-Porn star. She was still pretty good looking, built like most men’s “dream girl” and just the other side of being in her prime. I was a decade past mine, an ex-officer in the Galactic Intelligence Special Investigations Service, more commonly called GISIS. I was part of the interspecies crime division, but that career is long gone. No regrets. Well, not many.

My desk comm buzzed.

“Hey Redge, the Mick is here to see ya,” Kinky said. I looked at the front office security cam monitor and saw the Mick standing in front of Kinky’s glass topped desk. He was staring down through the glass at her long legs that led up to a short skirt. I couldn’t fault him. I was looking down past her “Cleopatra” style black haircut into Kinky’s magnificent cleavage. It had taken me three tries to get the cam in the right position and make sure those magnificent orbs made it into every shot.

I could see the Mick starting to shake with another round of his nervous ticks. He had spent too many cycles prospecting outside the domes in a dated and patched O-Suit. His shakes were split between oxygen deprivation and substance abuse.

“Send him in, Kinks, and pull the M-card on the Lefsst job. We’re gonna bill the Mick’s fee to it,” I said. We didn’t put any cases on our network. We always put them on individual one terabyte M-cards. I kept them in my office safe sitting in a plastic bin, surrounded by a pound of military grade Mag-phosphor. If the sensor thresholds broke, they would go up in a 2,000 degree puff of smoke. I had written that warning on the door of the safe in red fingernail polish next to a badly drawn skull and crossbones.

The Mick came in and stood in front of my desk. I would have asked him to have a seat, but I knew he would turn me down.

“Yeah, so, Redge I got ... that info you was ... looking for ... You were on the wrong ... lead. Big time ... Not the mistress you ... thought it was,” the Mick huffed as he spoke in broken Near English. It came out in the rhythm he used to breathe in his dilapidated suit with its fifty-year-old oxygen scavenger.

“That’s why I comm’d you,” I replied. “I knew you would get me back on track.” The Mick smiled at my confidence in his abilities. His eyes narrowed immediately.

“Yeah, well asking questions ... got me noticed ... I want to hit the ore field ... soon. Real soon ... The new info is gonna ... cost you five-hundred creds.” He was a greedy little shit. He was also wired into the seedy underbelly of NewerYork and one of my better sources.

“Five-hundred? Screw that. Look, I’ll comp you, but the most I could go is two-hundred ... and I’ll call in a favor on that drunk and disorderly you got in the bowery. Get it dropped to time served. No fine and no probation. Deal?”

“Uhhh. Ok. Deal ... Info is on this M-Card,” the Mick said and set in on my desk. I hit my Comm.

“Hey, Doll, can you bring me a one time for two-hundred creds?”

Kinky came in with a B-card tabbed to two-hundred creds. I thumbed it and handed it back to her. The Mick smiled.

“Later, Redge,” the Mick said as he took the B-card from Kinky’s hand and turned to leave, smacking her on the rear as he quickly stepped out of her backhand’s range and through the door.

“You’re a creep, Mick! Do that again and I’ll cut that hand off and feed it to ya!” Kinky yelled at the rapidly retreating footsteps. She could, too.

“Hey, Kinky, I gotta go check out a couple of things. Can you comm Madam Lefsst to meet me here about 17:30?”

“Hmmm, sure thing Redge. Ya mind if I take a long lunch? I need to take care of some things myself,” Kinky asked, batting her beautiful blue eyes at me and leaning over my desk.

“Um ... uh ... sure. Long as you need,” I heard myself say. Man, she was a work of art.

* * *

I was sitting in a diner across from the mistress’ apartment. The Mick had an address for the name and I had to be sure she was the right one this time. You don’t get follow-on business charging your clients for bad info.

Biz had been slowing in NewerYork. It was the biggest domed city on Mars. The new biodomes were going up around it, allowing the city dwellers to live in less crowded suburbia under plasteel reinforced glass. The inner city was too rough around the edges to raise children. Always had been. I watched a team of teens, two of them alien, do a bump and grab on a broker type human who had no business in this part of town. Well, no legal business. They got away with at least two M-Cards and a B-card from his suit pockets from what I could see.

This part of NewerYork was next to the space wharf. Day and night, people and goods head into the new frontier or return from it. NewerYork, still sexy and exciting, but with a quite a few kilometers on her. Kind of like Kinky. The city still had secrets to keep and secrets traded like stocks on the new galactic market. That made me an information broker. Or a sap. Not sure which.

I had a skill set that earned me creds. The real crime is handled by the GISIS, so I specialize in other things. Finding things and finding out things. Catching employees on the take, finding stolen or lost valuables, and catching folks doing stuff they should not be doing, including other people. The last one on the list was my bread and butter. Cheating spouses was a booming business and with the influx of other races, most of it required my background in interspecies investigations.

I was on my second cup of Centaurian coffee. Not the stuff that actually grew there. That shit costs a fortune to import. This was the knock off stuff, grown on the moon in a hothouse from clippings of the original plants. I sipped the brew, savoring the flavor and looking out the tinted window of the diner. A lot of my job was sitting, waiting and watching.

My carefully constructed sugar packet pyramid had collapsed, so I was dividing my attention between the building across the street and the vids playing on the diner monitor system. The local news was scrolling across the bottom of the screen. Another bombing at the suburbia dome construction site last night. The “Saviors of Mars,” an environmental terrorist group, was taking the blame. “Mars for Martians” was their battle cry. When asked “Where are the Martians?” they couldn’t answer, so they started blowing things up. Every age has its radicals. I turned my attention back to the building’s front door. The eyes watch and the mind wanders.

NewerYork was in its Friday lunch rush and just about every species I knew was walking, crawling or sliming its way along the sidewalks. The city was founded on the spot where the Mars rover had found a Templar sword from 1308 stuck in a dune. Yeah, that’s right, a sword that belonged to the Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Jacques de Molay himself, was sticking out of the ground here on Mars and NASA found it. Not on purpose. Everyone knew that.

Some bad code had made the rover stray off course by about 200 feet from its target path and it ran smack dab into the blade that changed everything. Well, the blade next to the “thing” that changed everything. The “thing” was an empty carton with writing of non-terrestrial origin. The pictures were broadcast all over the world and a Farkan listening post out by Jupiter intercepted the transmission.

I said that right. Farkans. They are literally the little green men who showed up a week later. I’m not joking. Farkan’s are about three feet high, green skinned and they had been monitoring us since we first broadcast radio waves into outer space. They had been waiting for us to “mature” before making contact, but that went to hell in a handbasket when they saw the streamed picture of the carton next to the sword. They came to us and guaranteed they would find out how something from Earth had ended up on Mars five-hundred years before the first rockets were invented.

It was the Denubians. Yep, you know them and probably hate them. They’re a younger race as far as deep space travel, but signed on to the Galactic Accords regardless. Five hundred years ago some enterprising entrepreneurs with the Denubian trade alliance had figured out a way to make a few creds off a backwater planet and its barely civilized sentient race.

Speaking of Denubians, I saw one I knew coming out of the apartment block of the mistress. I had enough experience recognizing alien features to know the guy’s attributes were a match to my M-card file back at the office. It was Mr. Lefsst executive assistant, Syemour Shelzz. Score.

I thumbed my pay pad and left the restaurant. I tailed the assistant for a couple of blocks on foot. He must have taken private transportation down here; I just needed to get a picture of him for the file. He was my choice for the go-between for Mr. Lefsst and the mistress. He turned right into a narrow alleyway and disappeared. I started jogging to catch up and reached the alleyway. I poked my head around the corner and I didn’t see him.

There was an archway about 30 meters down on the left, so I continued into the alleyway to get a peak. I was almost to the archway when Syemour stepped out of it. I heard footsteps behind me as well. I turned and saw two big dockworker types behind me. Like 130 kilo big. At least they were human. I stood a chance.

“You big troub’s mister. Big,” Syemour said, his higher pitched voice making the broken Near English hard on the ears. “You deep in the slime. Gon steal from me? Want take what mine? You pay now, pinky-toy.” And there it was. Pinky-toy. The underlying rub between our races.

The Denubians are why we are on Mars today or even allowed to travel and trade within the Galactic community. They are humanoid in appearance, just slightly taller, slightly thinner and have a translucent blue skin. Their craniums are narrower as well, giving them a bulging fisheye look.

Denubians are conniving, greedy and self-centered as a race. They are also meticulous record keepers. It took the Farkans, appointed to head the adjudication, less than a month to figure out that the Denubians had a penchant for three things that Earth had in abundance. Gold, people and chocolate. They had stolen what legend calls the Templar Treasure and divvied it up at a temp base on Mars, leaving the valueless sword. No big deal. Ruling number one: They had to return the gold with interest.

They had grabbed a group of people to use as sex slaves. Seems humans will “do” anything and are always ready to try new things. The Denubians only mate with each other once a month. It’s a biological clock thing, but their sexual appetite is legendary. We are physically “compatible,” so they were thrilled to find us. Those early people and their descendents died on the Denubian home world from some sort of virus hundreds of years ago, so there was no real way to determine who was owed compensation, so we all got a little. Human and Denubian interactions, transactions and disputes were closely monitored. Ruling number two: A “tie” always went to the human.

The chocolate. That was the big one. Seems the Denubians had taken the native plants and built a small empire growing, processing and distributing chocolate. It was the most popular product in the Galaxy. It was also a wholly unique product of Earth. Ruling number three: The Farkans declared all profits, royalties, facilities and distribution rights the sole property of the human race. A lot of Denubians went broke overnight. It all went into the Earth Reconciliation Trust Fund and we used the proceeds to buy ourselves into the Galactic community. Denubians sort of held a grudge over all of that. Pinky-toys was their version of the “N” word.

“Well, pinky-toy, m’gon make you sorry. M’gon make you pay. M’be sell you organs on black market?” Syemour squeaked.

“Look, I don’t know you and I was just coming in here to take a leak. No harm meant,” I said. “Not lookin’ for any trouble here.”

“That lie, pinky-toy,” Syemour said. “M’be my friends convince truth from you?”

“Now, there is no need for violence,” I said raising my hands up. I could take on one of these guys, maybe the Denubian as well, but I had no doubt about the outcome if they all three jumped me.

“Hey, bruisers, why ya’ messing with that mook when you could play with a pretty girl?” I heard a familiar voice say. I turned my head and saw a vision of sexy womanhood in a miniskirt. Kinky was standing just inside the alleyway. She held some shopping bags in one hand and had her hip in the other. She walked toward the dockworker types, their mouths hanging open. The clicks of her knee-high stiletto boots echoing down the narrow passage. She had pulled her hair into pigtails held by pink ribbons. The top three buttons on her blouse were undone and the cloth was having a hard time keeping her from spilling out. I’m sure that every man there prayed for a weak fourth button. She lowered the bags to the ground.

“So, boys, here’s the deal. Ya’re gonna let the man walk and we can talk about having some real fun, ‘kay?”

It took a few seconds of watching her breathe in and out before the Denubian recovered.

“Well, m’be we just finish him and you be next playtime. Huh? M’be make look like he do you in? Know how do that. M’good at settin’ up things. Make GISIS think what want. Sound good?”

“Now, boys, that would not be fun for me, would it?”

“Who cares? “ one of the bruisers said. “I agree with fish boy. Let’s put an end to this asshole and have some fun with hers.” They all laughed. One bruiser grabbed my shoulder and spun me toward him. I saw the molecule knife in his other hand. I grabbed his wrist and I turned my head to tell Kinky to run.

The other bruiser lunged to reach for Kinky, who was only a meter away from him.

“Oopsie. Wrong answer,” Kinky said.

His hand was a centimeter from grabbing her thin blouse when she moved so fast her hands were a blur. Kinky brought her left arm up and brushed his hand away, grabbing his wrist and twisting it over and up at the same time. His elbow popped. She drove the palm of her other hand into his nose and then stabbed her manicured nails into his eyes. Using his eye sockets as a handhold, she jammed a stiletto into each of his kneecaps, stood, released her grip on his face and wrapped her arms around his head. There was a pop when she twisted it.

Someone mught have been inclined to ask “how could she do that?” When Kinky’s career in Holo-Porn had ended, she swapped out the skill sets programs in her implants’ E-Ram. Out went the sexual moves and acting, in came four forms of martial arts and hand weapons use. Hot and deadly. Meanwhile, I still had the detuned E-ram from my GISIS days. Well, it wasn’t exactly stock anymore and all of the stuff the GISIS had turned off when I left the force was actually back on, thanks to a hacker buddy of mine.

The bruiser on me realized I was less of a threat than the large breasted pigtail sporting sex goddess and turned toward Kinky. He stopped in his tracks, the handle from a tactical molecule edge knife protruding from his right eye. He dropped like a rock. Kinky shot forward and drop kicked the Denubian in the chest, sending him into the wall and then down onto the ground. She landed on his chest, knees on his shoulders and a knife over his eye. He wasn’t staring at the blade, though. Kinky doesn’t wear underwear, so he had something much better to look at.

“Hey, Mista, ya might want to get out of here before the GISIS shows up. Me and this loser are gonna have a quick chat and then I’m outta here,” Kinky said over her shoulder to me. I got the hint and took off out of the alleyway.

* * *

I was back in my office, staring out my window at NewerYork. The face reflected in the glass stared back at me with a tired and worn look. I tried not to wear open regret, so I put on my best GISIS good cop mask. I took a drink from my glass of Tennessee whiskey over ice. The front door buzzed and I heard Kinky. On the monitor, I saw her set down her bags by her desk and walk to my door. Kinky came in, looking like all she had done was go shopping and have lunch.

“Hey, thanks for having my back, Doll. I owe you,” I said, lifting my glass to her. “Were you following me?”

“Nah. A little full of ya’self, are ya?” Kinky asked. “I was down at Le Strange in the duty free zone picking up some perfume when I saw you leaving that diner. I was gonna catch up when my E-ram tweaked to the guys following you. I am gonna have to write a nice letter to the firmware guy. Maybe throw in a couple of “thank you” pictures. That firmware spotted those two tailing you and I only had it set to watch for people eyeing me. A girl can’t be too safe.”

“Well, send him much love from me as well. As a bonus, how about I cover a little trip?”

“What trip?” Kinky gave me a suspicious eye, but I had her attention.

“We ought to make some serious scratch from this case, once I wrap it up. With the extra creds, I was thinking we take a tram out to casino road and stay at a nice hotel. Food, drinks and room on me. You stake your own bets. Deal?”

“Redge, when you look like me, you don’t have to stake anything,” Kinky said and winked at me. “Sure. Sounds like fun. Oh, by the way, I picked this off of Little Boy Blue when he was staring at my crotch. Might have something interestin’ on it.” Kinky held an M-card between her nicely manicured, but deadly, fingernails. She flicked it like a playing card and it embedded itself in the stalk of my fake palm tree. Hot and a badass.

* * *

My Comm Buzzed.

“Redge, it’s your 17:30. Want I should send her in?” Kinky asked. On the monitor I saw my client. Tall, sophisticated and well dressed. Not human. I also took the opportunity to look down Kinky’s blouse again. Exquisite.

“Yeah, Doll, send her in,” I gave one last glance at Kink’s magnificent lady orbs and checked my face in the mirrored window of my office. Yep, still ugly.

Madam Prrtur Lefsst glided in. A Denubian, she had married into serious creds. My background on her showed she had come from money, her family leading the chocolate cabal before the collapse. It was a long way for the entire clan to fall and she had fallen the hardest. When she met Mr. Lefsst, she was nude dancing a pole out in the Antares Nebula on a mining station. His company was there selling new Fold Space drives and she landed him.

She looked the part. What nature hadn’t given her, surgery had provided. She may not be dancing now, but she wasn’t that far removed from the pole. Madam Lefsst was attractive, but I didn’t “do” aliens or clients. Okay, I didn’t do “alien clients.” Well, not as often as I could have.

“Detective, success?” she asked, her kewpie doll mouth barely moving as she squeaked out her question in Near English.

“Yes and no, Madam,” I replied. I was going to make a little extra scratch. The M-card Kinky had nipped was the loaded with information about Mr. Lefsst and the mistresses liaisons. Times, dates, places. All the stuff I needed to close out this case.

“Your husband is cheating on you, has a mistress, but not the one you thought. I spent a lot of time following the wrong Slub.” That’s not slang. I meant Slub. Disgusting creatures that resembled humans, but weigh 200 kilo’s and smell like rotten meat. Denubes couldn’t resist them, mostly because Slubs emit a hypnotic hormone and their saliva is addictive like Opiumeth.

“And cost to share ... ?”

“Well, I did have some additional expenses. I had to call in some favors. You gave me bad intel, lady,” I said as I sat down and put my feet up on the desk, “I'll spill for another two-thousand creds."

“Fine,” she squeaked and pulled her gold plated B-card, punching in the transfer and thumbing it. I had to keep from smiling. It had cost me the two-hundred creds to the Mick and the threat of an ass beating in an alleyway, but I was going to get back ten times my investment in bonus alone. The standard fee and expenses I had already collected meant we were well in the black this month. Kinky and I were going to have a good time at the casinos.

“Done. Now, who he with?”

“Slub named Delmon Fudge. They’re meeting tonight at the Copa 21 club for dinner, then off to a room your husband reserved at the Madison. All the info you might have discovered on your own is on this.” I slid the M-card with the doctored case file on it across the desk. The files were set up to look like amateur sleuthing. All of it legal to submit in court. Something she could give a lawyer.

Madam Lefsst sat quietly for a moment. “Thank you, Detective. Mr. Lefsst and I have contract. I forgive some pinky-toy play whores,” She cocked an eye toward the outer office where Kinky sat in all of her “pinky-toy” glory, “but to take another? Use regular? Share me time? That shame me. No man shame me no more.”

“I understand, Madam, I am sorry things turned out like this,” I said. ”Please be aware that I cannot be called as a witness, since some things came into my possession through ... other channels. You will need to proceed forward and make any additional discoveries on your own.”

“Yes. M’be I go visit him and Slub with M’ lawyer,” she said, her eyes staring at me emotionless. “Now, detective, we shall not see each no more. I count on our confident agreement, correct? Leak could be explosive.”

“Of course, that’s how this works.” I replied. “I have the only physical copies on M-cards in my safe. They go nowhere and can’t be subpoenaed under Galactic Accords. You and I have legal client privilege.” She nodded and looked at the safe.

She stood and left. She hadn’t flinched when she got the news. Cold. Any seeming discomfort had a manufactured tone to it. My old GISIS instincts were tingling, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I was missing something.

I turned to the office monitor to see her go and in time to catch Kinky shaking her protein drink. It was turning into a nice evening, money and a show. When Kinky started to pour her drink, I went to my safe and put away the rest of the M-Cards, closing the case of the cheating Denubian. My comm buzzed.

“Hey, Redge. I got the reservations desk on the phone. They need your thumb on the B-card to reserve the rooms.” Ah, Kinky, what a trooper. I pulled out my wallet and my B-card. It wasn’t gold plated. I kissed it, thinking about how the tiny flat card was now thick with an extra two-thousand creds of Madam Lefsst’s money.

I also wondered how many of those creds would be spent on tequila shots for Kinky before her defenses came down and her miniskirt came up. A man had to dream a little.

* * *

I was in my apartment packing for the weekend. In between ice-cold glasses of Tennessee bourbon, I was snacking on some takeout and trying to watch the sports betting lines on the wall vid. My GISIS scanner was running in the background.

You don’t do something for fifteen years and not have at least a mild interest in it afterward. My hacker buddy had spliced a relay into their optic comm cable down at city hall, so I got all of their uncoded passive feeds. A call came through the scanner from the North Bowery Airlock.

The GISIS was bringing in a suit full of pulp that might have previously been filled with a living human. First look said the regulator went and emptied the entire contents of his O-reserve tank into his lungs. The guy exploded. I felt bad for the guy. This sort of thing happened to the budget miners and ore field rock hounds. It was the price they paid for not working for the consortiums and using maintained equipment.

“Yeah, Desk, it’s a freakin’ mess,” The GISIS field man said over the comm, “Looks like the guy was equipped to go for a week or two. Must have just left the dome. He was four-hundred meters out, behind a hill. A dome glass maintenance drone spotted him when it flew off course. Only been here a few hours.”

“Got it, Field, see if you can pull a name from the suit or fish out his E-ram and we’ll ID the poor bastard.”

“Rodger, Desk.” Getting blown up like balloon was a bad way to go. I tossed a jacket in my bag. I was thinking I might take Kinky to a show.

“Field, this is Desk, we just ran the vid and we are seeing a second set of tracks out and in. “

“Sure, Desk, probably mine.”

“Negative, Field, they were there before the call in. Drop everything until a forensic team gets there. Lock down the crime scene.”

“Are you serious? That’s a lot of resources in motion just to prove that a fifty year old patched up suits oxygen scavenger gave up the ghost and went to shit.”

That got my attention. I downed my drink and went to my desk, pulling up my comm. I keyed in a number and waited for an answer. It buzzed three, four, five times.

“Field to Desk,” a voice over the scanner said, “I hear a comm from inside the suit. We can check the ID number when we get this thing cracked. They may know who was inside.”

“Agreed, Field. Now hold tight until relieved.”

I cut the comm and punched my speed dial. Kinky answered on the second buzz.

* * *

I had Kinky meet me down at the Fifth and Main tram station so we could arrive at the office together. I told her we needed to go to the casino early and I had forgotten my spare B-card and the tickets at the office. I actually wanted her near me to make sure she was still safe.

On the way in, I saw the newsie scrolling across the trams monitor. “Denubian Heir to Fold Ship fortune dies in explosion at Madison Hotel. Saviors of Mars literature litters the street.” That bitch. This wasn’t about love, it was about money.

Why go through a messy divorce when you could blame someone else for the murder of your cheating spouse and his mistress? She had found out where he was going to be from me. She must have had someone tail the Mick and decided to clean up that loose end. I figured we were next. I explained that to Kinky and she stared back at me.

“That’s some shit, boss. Let’s get the hell outta here ‘til we can get some play on our side. Gonna’ go full combat mode until we’re safe.” I smiled and realized she would protect me much better than I could protect her.

Her E-ram tweaked to a couple of likely trailers and we took a different route to the office. When we got there, she went in the lobby first and immediately ran into an alternate night security guard that we had never seen before.

“Hey there, big and handsome, where’s Gus? He not workin’ tonight?” She asked as she batted her baby blues and bent forward.

“That’s right, ma’am. He called in sick. They pulled me in from next door. This is my second straight shift and I’m a little tired,” he said as he leaned toward Kinky, eyeing her womanly charms.

“You must be. So tired ya forgot that the guy that’s had this job for the last ten years is named Frank?” She hit him fast, hard and often. He fell to the floor with a lot less teeth than he started with and trouble breathing through the hamburger that used to be his nose.

Our building managers are cheap. No watchmen they paid could afford to buy a gun. Frank had had to pay for his own nightstick. Kinky frisked him and found two hypos along with a pistol in an ankle holster.

We took the elevator up an extra two floors over ours and walked the stairs back down. Nobody was there who shouldn’t have been. At the office, Kinky checked the door and security system. Someone had tried to get in, but apparently given up. We went inside and dropped the Enviro-doors. They sealed the room if the dome was breached. They were also strong enough to stop anybody short of a GISIS swat team from breaching them. My ears popped as I felt the room air pressure go up and heard the window seals creak.

* * *

It’s ten minutes later. I’m staring at the side of the shoe of a local GISIS officer, my breathing shallow and mouth filled with a coppery taste. My blood. The side of my face is resting on the historical plate embedded in the concrete. The one that marked the spot where the Templar sword had been found. It’s cool against my skin.

Across the street, I can see Kinky’s broken body on the pavement, her ample breast semi-exposed but not rising or falling. The sonic bomb in my office had gone off, throwing us both through the window and three stories to the street below.

Kinky had been on the comm changing our destination to a deep dark hole to climb down. Reservations for two. She also put a couple of personal items in an overnight bag she had stashed in a cabinet. She tossed me an empty and I went back into my office.

I checked the safe and it was online. All my files would be better off in there than on me if we got hit on the way out of town. I went to my comm and punched in the contingency plan code to send the safe combo to my old partner if I didn’t stop it first.

“Tickets will be waiting at the tram. Ready?” Kinky asked from behind my desk where she was working the monitors, looking as beautiful as ever, even though I could see the worry.

I opened my office closet to grab my coat and the world turned upside down.

Now I lay here going over it in my mind as my life slips away, my blood creating a macabre backfill as it flows around the raised bronze letters of the Templar plaque.

The explosion.

Being thrown through the window.

The fall.

And now the shoe. They all play over and over in my head.

I see someone on the sidewalk staring at Kinky’s broken body. Syemour. Through the pain and brain fog, it all makes sense.

The last thing I saw as I opened the closet was Madam Lefsst laying under some guy with a round sonic bomb strapped to him. They had to be alive. Maybe brain dead, but alive. Nobody looks for those kind of chemicals in an explosion. See, the thing about Denubes, they only ever say what they mean. Madam Lefsst said a leak would be explosive. And it was. She had leaked her intent to Syemour. Hell, they might have been lovers. Who knows?

Denubes only say what they mean. Syemour had setup people. Me included.

The Saviors of Mars would be accused of killing Mr. Lefsst and his mistress on Madam Lefsst’s orders, so she could get his fortune. During the final pay off meeting, taking place in my office, the Saviors double crossed us all and set a bomb off. The explosion would have triggered my safe, so the M-cards were all gone. I bet there is some “authentic” paperwork somewhere giving our boy Syemour control of the Leffst fortune. Little shit.

I see him lick his translucent blue lips one last time as he stares at Kinky’s crotch.

He looks up from her broken body, right at me. He nods and smiles as the emergency tech lifts me onto a gurney and begins trying to save me. Syemour thinks he has won and I had no evidence. Lefsst had probably told him about my safe. Smart Little Boy Blue.

“I think he’ll make it if we get him to the med-center.” I hear the med tech say.

I smile. I’ll make it.

See, I was an officer in the Galactic Intelligence Special Investigations Service as part of the interspecies crime division, but that career is long gone. No regrets. Well, not many.

And on this day, I didn’t regret having a hacker buddy turn on all of my old GISIS programs in my E-ram. The kind of programs that will take file uploads and record everything for the entire length of a case. The kind of GISIS-ware that can be certified to be used as evidence in any Galactic Court. For Kinky, Syemour, this pinky-toy is going to see you burn. infinity

Tom Tinney is a long time biker and motorcycle magazine editor/contributor. He has recently completed a novel, “Threads: Book One of the Fabric of the Universe,” as well as a new project called “Blood of Invidia” that he is working on with his son. He also blogs regularly on the biker website,